June Buggin' in the Summer

Kids Eat Right program helps families stay healthy during the summer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

Summer is the time for families to relax and enjoy the sun - but not too much relaxing. Maintaining healthy eating habits and staying active are just as important.

Parents, keep an eye on your kids eating habits and fitness this summer. It’s important to maintain healthy eating habits – even the during the fun months of summer - because children will take these habits with them forever.

How do you do that? The Kids Eat Right program is here to help you as a family – and nation to battle the growing obesity epidemic.

What is "Kids Eat Right?"

Kids Eat Right is an eating and activity program that the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and ADA Foundation have developed to fight childhood obesity. It’s a Childhood Obesity Prevention plan that supports the Let’s Move campaign by the White House and the First Lady.

Kids Eat Right is a useful online resource that families can use to gather information as they take the next steps toward ending obesity. The program provides valuable tools, recipes, and practical tips for everyday life.

"Kids Eat Right" Goals:

According to Katie Brown, Ed.D., R.D., L.D. and National Education Director of the American Dietetic Association Foundation, "The purpose of the website for the public is to provide busy families with help to shop smart, cook healthy, and eat right."

The Kids Eat Right Program provides "quality nutrition" according to Brown "by promoting increased involvement of ADA members by asking registered dietitians to volunteer to campaign for Kids Eat Right."

The program also offers credible information. Brown says, "We want to change the dialogue to what kids should be eating more of instead of saying 'let's focus on what kids shouldn't be eating'."

Why is "Kids Eat Right" important?

Brown says, "Childhood obesity is considered an epidemic, and the rates are still rising – they’re at their highest levels ever." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years
  • The prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents has increased more than twice between 1980 to 2008

Obesity and associated problems:

What’s particularly worrisome is that obesity in children can cause lifelong problems. Here are just some of the chronic diseases that can start with or be triggered by youngsters who carry too much weight. Childhood obesity can:

  • Lead to increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Likely cause bone and joint problems, sleep apnea (when you’re not breathing normally during sleep) and possible social and psychological problems
  • Likely lead to adulthood overweight or obesity, which can lead to many health problems including: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, many cancers, and osteoarthritis

Making healthy living a family affair:

Kids Eat Right is centered around the idea of "SHOP, COOK, EAT" because it’s important that families spend time together to shop, cook and eat.

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association Spokesperson says, "One of the best ways to teach your kids about eating healthfully is to involve them in every step of the process."


The program offers families a number of tips for involving children in every step of healthy eating .

  • Shop. Bring children grocery shopping and allow them to choose favorite fresh fruits and vegetables that are available during the season
  • Cook. Allow children to help with tasks in the kitchen like measuring, chopping, setting the table and mixing ingredients
  • Eat. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association says "Eating together as a family during adolescence is associated with lasting positive effects on nutritional quality in young adulthood."

Physical activity Tips:

Not only is it important to eat healthy but to stay physically active. Children should be encouraged to run outside rather than sitting in the house watching TV or playing video games. Children "should be getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week," according to Jamieson-Petonic.

Ideas to get moving:

  • Join local sports leagues or camps
  • Have family outings that include swimming, tennis or biking
  • Take a walk after dinner
  • Play laser tag, bowling, or miniature golf instead of movie night
  • Buy a video game that involves moving

For more tips, recipes and information about Kids Eat Right, go to www.eatright.org.

Review Date: 
June 15, 2011